Now wash your hands - and your mobile phone

28th of October 2011
Now wash your hands - and your mobile phone

This is the sort of story that may leave you feeling slightly ill after your breakfast - a study which suggests one in six mobile phones is contaminated with faecal matter.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London took nearly 400 samples from mobile phones and hands in 12 British cities.

They found 16 per cent of phones and 16 per cent of hands harboured E. coli (Escherichia coli), bacteria which inhabit the human intestines.

The largest proportion of contaminated phones was in Birmingham (41 per cent) while Londoners were caught with the highest proportion of E. coli present on hands (28 per cent).

But the sample size in each city was small, so the variations between them could be a statistical anomaly.

However Dr Val Curtis from the London School of Hygiene says the study showed clear differences between north and south.

"We found the further north we went the more hands and phones were likely to be contaminated. It could be the bugs survive better in colder and wetter conditions or it might be that people wash their hands less."

Dr Curtis explained that they were using E. coli as a marker for the presence of faecal matter. She said: "Campylobacter and Salmonella bacteria are much more likely to cause a gastric infection and could easily be passed on through faecal contamination." Most strains of E. coli found on the hands and phones are not likely to cause major ill-health


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